Reviews For Echoes of Beljoxa
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Chrissel Reviewed Opened Locks on July 05, 2017 01:27pm Liked

Even the third time reading, this chapter has me bawling.

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Sigyn Reviewed Opened Locks on January 26, 2016 04:46am Liked

Buffy! He's an agent of the Powers.” And? As I say with perfect eloquence in my story Immortal, "Fuck the Powers That Be."

“I think I need another.” Pretty sure they all do, Slayer.

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alive_or_dead Reviewed Opened Locks on January 25, 2016 03:12am Liked

If I didn't already know how this story ends, I'd be ditching this right about now... So much angst is bad for me, and I know what's coming up, but I also know what comes after that... Either way, I'm taking a few hour break 

weep

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nmcil Reviewed Opened Locks on September 16, 2015 03:39am

Great use of the events in the series recreated in your vision - great chapter and wonderful treatment of the final revealing of the three time travellers. 

This is one of the best time travel storeis I have read - congratulations on your work. 

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13th Blackbird Reviewed Opened Locks on July 24, 2015 02:21am Liked

<I>“I guess you have your final chapter.”</I> Excellent.

Um, and you're bringing Spike back, right?

<I>“I need to know Faith will have a clean slate and full support from you guys. She's going to be your slayer, and she'll need you.”</I> Whoa, I didn't expect this.

Aww, poor Buffy.

Author's Response on July 26, 2015 12:50pm

Everyone loves the Cordelia line. I really didn't think it would resonate so well, especially since it's her only line in the entire story.

But Buffy quitting makes sense, under the circumstances, doesn't it?

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MrsTattooedButterfly Reviewed Opened Locks on July 20, 2015 04:29am Liked

Read

Faint

Cry

Rant

Sad

 

Author's Response on July 20, 2015 10:56am

Yes, I excel at making people miserable. I'd apologize, but who apologizes in response to a compliment and means it?

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xblacklilyx Reviewed Opened Locks on July 19, 2015 02:56pm

/cries

Author's Response on July 20, 2015 10:57am

*offers tissues*

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fyreburned Reviewed Opened Locks on July 19, 2015 02:23pm Liked

Oh, god, this was not a good way to start off a day. I'very gotta tell you, this chapter played hell with my emotions. I was shocked at the last chapter. But while reading this chapter, I suddenly realized tears were rolling down my face. And now I've been in here quietly bawling my eyes out. What else can I say but I will remain on your roller-coaster for the duration?

Author's Response on July 20, 2015 11:00am

It's probably a good thing I took 40 chapters to get you hooked before I dropped the biggest bombshell of the story. Otherwise, you'd all be throwing soggy tissues at me and walking away right now.

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SelfAndShadow Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 10:43pm

This may be an odd thing to focus on, but should we be just a little worried that Willow assumed she could take credit for Tara's lack of stuttering?

Cordelia's “I guess you have your final chapter.”  Twist the knife, ok? Ow.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 08:03pm

I think Willow meant that in an "I thought I made you stronger and more confident by showing you I loved you and adding you to my social circle" sort of way, not an "I tried to fix your speech issue with magic" way. Still, not a great moment for the relationship. Revealing, but not in a flattering way to Willow. We'll be getting into their relationship issues more soon.

Cordy's only line in the entire story, and you're the second person to mention it. Yeah, that one burns some. But can't you just hear that coming out of her mouth?

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tbd Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 07:28pm Liked

Why are you breaking my heart on a Saturday?!?! Thanks for the update!

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 04:39pm

Sorry! That's just how it timed out. Would you rather I depress you any other day of the week? Tongue Out

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gonnaregretthis Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 06:07pm Liked

I have not been keeping up with the reviews or your authorial comments, just reading the story. Emotionally, I feel like this is going to end now, as a tragedy, and I swear to god I whimpered out loud multiple times in these last two chapters.

But I am going to have faith in you, because I have to, because my heart is broken.

But the thing that I don't want to skip past as I'm having these FEELINGS is that Willow is now finding out the truth. I'm so interested in that, and how she'll deal with it, and whether she'll be able to close the gaps with Buffy or Tara.

This story is killing me, in the best way.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 07:33pm

Willow and Tara definitely have some stuff to work through, now that the secrets are out. Like all the other arcs in this story, it won't play out all at once. Give it a few chapters.

Keep the faith, friend.

"The house thee has built with her will stand."

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DAnn29 Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 05:09pm Liked

This story is beyond amazing. I take it with me everywhere I go, find myself at work worrying about the characters, what is going to happen next, trying to figure out the clues you leave, I admit, I am obsessed! Your storytelling is an amazing gift,  thank you for sharing this with all of us. My heart is breaking for Buffy, much like 2003, when she thought she'd have more time with Spike after the battle to explore their relationship, some things/people really don't change. 

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 07:38pm

Season five setting, and some season five story. Season seven characters, and some season seven story. Mix it up, throw in some unexpected elements, question the crosspoints of fate, luck, and free will, and suddenly the characters find themselves building something they'd always planned to, but had no idea how it would look: A new future.

As for carrying it with you, I've been living and breathing Echoes for the better part of a year. I get it. I really do.

Thanks for reviewing, and for the amazingly kind words!

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Torrilin Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 04:43pm Liked

I'll have to reread. I think I see some of the shape of what you're building better now. The structure looks very interestingly messy, and I'm not sure what tricks you've got hiding in your pocket to make scaffolding hold up long enough for us to get there. I wasn't quite expecting last chapter's ending (duh!) but it seems like you're giving Buffy a lot of rope and a sacrifice play she just wasn't expecting. But I'm not sure what she was expecting is actually what she wants either, so eh. We can let her suffer for now while I get to see whether we're going where I think we are as the long game.

I'm also seeing hints that possibly things went even wonkier than my initial read suggested. Thus the real need for a reread. I'm suspicious. Very suspicious. I may be coming back with more questions.

> the fuckhave you

Missing space there. And I'm pretty sure I've seen an "in tact" somewhere (probably not this chapter) instead of intact.

> She nevertalks that

Another missing space

If nitpicks like that are ok, I may have more after the reread. I'm kind of expecting howling giggles too.

Is it wrong of me to be worrying that Tara didn't stand in like she was supposed to? Oh well, I can wait a couple more chapters to see if I'm right to worry or not. But I'm nervous.

And shit, I just realized we have another problem. Mrs Pratt's a widow. And there's no body to bury. Things are about to get MESSY.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 01:57pm

I'm going to have to do some proofing and re-uploading of nearly every chapter once Echoes is finished. There are typos all over the place. Right now, the plan is to start at the beginning, and work my way through, probably in batches of a few chapters a week. The first dozen or so chapters are the worst. It will get easier after that. Don't waste your time writing me typo lists (though I appreciate the effort). I know how bad it is, and it will get fixed, once I've gotten through the rest of the initial posting.

As for the story, your commentary is just vague enough to keep me from being able to respond to most of it, for fear I'll be putting ideas in your head, rather than reinforcing (or nudging you away from) them. I will say this: Tara stood in as a storytelling partner, and had expected to take the lead, given Buffy's present state, but Buffy surprised her, and took the reins of that conversation herself.

Torrilin Replied on July 18, 2015 03:49pm

Yeah, I see stories as I guess shapes? Pictures? Patterns? I dunno. It's very concrete but not real verbal most times. And just coz I can see a shape or a movement doesn't mean I know how the writer will make the shape happen. Basically I've been hoping you were trying to fake us out with an easy happy ending simple time travel fix-it story. And there have been enough bits that don't quite fit for the simple answer, so I keep hoping that we're getting a much harder story with more gut punches, and hopefully some really hard emotional and relationship work. And I'm getting some gut punches of the right kinds of shapes for what I'd been expecting. So yeah, it hurts. And it sucks. And it isn't fun. But I'm betting there will be payoff for the ow. A happily ever after with hearts and flowers payoff might be what most versions of Spike would say he wants, but I'm pretty sure he'd get bored. So that probably isn't the right payoff. I can be patient.

Righto on the proofing :). I'll just share the gigglefits then.

Ok, I'm much less worried that Tara skipped out on her share now. I mean, I'm pretty sure Spike (any version of Spike) would want to punch Whistler there, and seeing Tara stand up for herself would've made Sparky very happy. I'd still like to hear how Tara would tell things, because I think her version of the story would have a different flavor than Buffy's. Not just in the less drunk way. But it feels like there needs to be some Willow and Tara fighting, and maybe some Tara and Anya fighting. And I can't decide if I'm waiting for the "ack! condoms!" moment from Anya or the "ack! wedding!" moment from her.

*gnaws on knuckles*

I'm not worried about who will drag Buffy out of a bottle tho. Pretty sure Dawn, Giles and Xander will run that one as a team. Very carefully.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 05:06pm

You're right, Echoes isn't a simple fix-it fic, even though "fix it" is the mission and it's a time travel story. On the surface, it looks like I'm fixing season five. I'm not. That's just the setting. In a way, I'm fixing Chosen, both for the logic fail of ignoring Beljoxa and making all those slayers, and for the Spuffy relationship. But I'm also telling a totally separate story, besides. The result has been varying degrees of gut-punching surrounding the Scooby relationships as they've shifted and evolved, the personalities of the time travelers and their attention to the mission forcing changes to the dynamic. I've broken season five with the weapon of the season seven baggage, and something new is emerging.

It's not all hearts and flowers, and isn't going to be. What it will be is something that feels true to the characters and the world they in habit- raw and painful and baggage-laden and frustrating, even in the good moments. I'm not building toward a fluffy happily ever after. Happily Ever After is an ending. The destination isn't an ending; it's the beginning of what our characters came back in time to build in the first place: a new future.

We'll be seeing more of the Tara and Willow stuff over the course of some upcoming chapters. Speaking of baggage! Yikes! They have some stuff to sort through.

Who and what will pull Buffy out of the bottle may surprise you. Wink

Torrilin Replied on July 18, 2015 10:34pm

Yeah, fixing Chosen sounds like more of the right shape. Tho there feels like there's aspects of fixing Seeing Red too. Not sure exactly how many of those are in play. There's a lot of messy maturing that needs to happen. Outgrowing a tragedy is a lot of work.

And there's a reason why I phrased it as Spike would say he wants hearts and flowers. We don't always know what we really want. Sometimes we can't know, coz we haven't been there yet. (I know what S2 Buffy would say she wants, not sure about this Buffy in C39... and I know for sure what she thought she wanted in C39 is not the answer she has now)

I'm ok with being surprised by who, how and why Buffy gets pulled out of her bottle. Just I can see at least 3 non Tara, non Spike ways she can be pulled out. Without an apocalypse or demon. So I feel secure that her current fondness for Jack Daniels is temporary. She's got support options, and they're not thinking of her as unshakeable and unbreakable. And a little crawling into a bottle while you're shocky is not automatically bad.

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nojiri23 Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 04:23pm Liked

Sad

Please tell me that Spike, like Jon Snow, is not truly dead........? Cry

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 02:01pm

Oh, you totally know Melisandre isn't at The Wall by coincidence.

Extrapolate that to Echoes however you like. Wink

nojiri23 Replied on July 19, 2015 11:38am

Love

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juggler Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 04:05pm Liked

Ok, so .... he is not really gone is he? You can't just do that to me, to us, to Buffy..... Really good story, good chapter too but...... Please...... Thanks!

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 01:14pm

Oh, he dusted. No question. Part of the reason Tara didn't want Willow to touch her was that she was wearing some of Spike's ashes. *shudder*

But the story isn't over.

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kittyfajitas Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 03:16pm Liked

Ouch.  This hurts.  I dont think I can cry until Buffy does, though.  I'm with another reviewer that totally missed the clues, though I'll admit I can be willfully ignorant in order to stay surprised.  I am really hoping Spike is brought back.  I mean, Whistler said that if Plan A (the amulet) had been what went down, either way the PTB would have worked it to get Buffy & Spike together.  That being said, I totally get Buffy's anger at Whistler!  He shouldn't have been surprised that she would want to kill him.  Dangling the HEA in front of them and then yanking it away.  Wait, maybe we should all be angry at the ultimate PTB -  YOU. Hahaha. 

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 01:45pm

Months after the writing (and rewriting), Buffy's screaming at Whistler STILL puts a lump in my throat. Your restraint is admirable.

It's ok if you don't see the clues. It will all come together on the page eventually, and be understood. If you decide to reread this gigantic story, you'll see it more clearly throughout, and might be comedically slapping your forehead as you go. That could be fun.

I actually wrote multiple versions of the Glory endgame, scribbling out scenes as they came to me, over the course of writing the rest of it. The version where Buffy jumped again was the first one, written so early in that the character dynamics we actually have in the final version of Echoes are nowhere to be seen. And the aftermath was HORRIBLE. You think this is miserable? The first idea was pretty much hopeless.

I was getting into the 30s (in chapters) before I wrote the Tara, Doc, and Spike scene at the top of the tower, realized that's what I'd actually been building toward, and began to understand a lot of my accidental foreshadowing. I think I actually gasped as the pieces came together in my head. Everything suddenly made sense. So I went back through the story to reread all of that foreshadowing, and kept Spike's impending death in mind as I wrote the chapters between the time I wrote the tower scene and where it happened in the story. But I was careful not to project his death too much in those chapters, made a strong effort not to put it on the table until the scene at the mission in Gilroy, when I wanted it to be known.

That's the closest I can claim to being the PTB of the story. I played with a couple of ideas until I understood what it was I was actually writing. Mostly, Echoes wrote itself. It built from its own history, built its own foreshadowing, and dragged me along for the ride. I let the story reveal itself to me, rather than forcing it in a certain direction. I'd give anything to know this experience wasn't "lightning in a bottle," that it was something repeatable. I guess we'll find out when the sequel starts taking shape. *crosses fingers*

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All4Spike Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 03:13pm Liked

Whistler is a arsehole and deserved that punch. Go Tara!

 

No claim = no superpower couple to be agents of the PTB, so it seems his work is over.

Please bring Spike back. Pretty please? But... not quite yet.

Buffy needs time to grieve and be depressed and detatched, and the scoobies need to time to process and accept that things have changed, and to witness first hand how important Spike was to Buffy and accept her choices.

Also, they need to get Faith out of jail and integrated into the group.

Intrigued to see how you take them forward...

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 07:57pm

Buffy is still the "short term asset" Whistler said she was in Unwilling Witness. He was assigned to her before she was even called, remember (Becoming, Porcelain Translations). And the agent theory was JUST a theory. Whistler dropped a hint that Althenea's idea was on the right track, but he never directly confirmed it (not that it would mean much if he had, since his honesty is questionable). In short, we don't know exactly what Whistler expects to get out of Buffy now, and we've known since Becoming (reminders in Connective Issues and Porcelain Translations, if memory serves) his bosses don't always tell him everything. What he thinks is coming up next regarding his assignment to the slayer may or may not be the whole story.

Clearly, breaking Faith out is the plan. Buffy's already discussed that with the Scoobies.

But as for accepting Buffy's choices, we're a bit past that. Lydia seemed intrigued by the story, but showed no animosity. Xander seemed to feel foolish for not figuring it out, and stunned by the mutiny story, but showed no anger. Willow appeared to be shocked and possibly a little afraid of herself, but directed her emotional distress exclusively toward the stranger who looks like her girlfriend. Anya didn't seem put off by anything. Her vibe was very much, "Holy crap! The First Evil! Ok, I get it." Giles knew, accepted, and even took Buffy's harsh verbal blow with understanding. Dawn knew, accepted, and cringed at hearing of her role in the mutiny. None of them offered strong objection to Buffy's intentions to have herself replaced by Faith and quit the business. Who is left who needs to accept Buffy's choices?

All4Spike Replied on July 18, 2015 08:20pm

Sorry, the practice of giving chapters names rather than numbers really throws me. I had to thhink long and hard before I figured out what you were referring to! 

I hadn't realised that all Whistler's hints and tips weren't true. I should have, you're correct.

I also hadn't understood that everyone was going to be so accepting of Buffy's insistence upon giving up the slaying and passing the baton to Faith. The scoobies have a history of trying to keep things the same as they've always been. Particularly Xander & Willow. I hadn't realised that the acceptance was definitive this time.

Looking forward to developments...

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 08:42pm

Sorry about the names over numbers thing. I struggle with the numbers in a lot of places in the story, but I remember the titles. I guess that probably makes me an anamoly.

Xan's been on board, even when he knew there were big secrets being kept. And really, Buffy was as honest with him as she could be, giving him more hints about the time travel than she should have.

Willow's focus has been drifting more and more toward Tara since she came back in Underground Travelers. At this point, the tension and distance with Buffy is making more sense, but she seems to barely even be acknowledging it as an opportunity to do something about the friendship (when it's needed most, since her supposed best friend has just been widowed). Right now, she's zeroed in on Tara, who showed herself to be a very changed woman when she confronted Whistler, and has now admitted to having been lying to Willow for nine months.

Will Willow's focus drift back to Buffy? Will she try to take this admittedly grim opportunity to salvage that friendship? Will Buffy, who has been very blase about that relationship, even bother to reciprocate any attempts?

Is Willow doing now EXACTLY what she did back in Tree Trunks (seen in Tara's phone call with Spike)? She went from obsessively focused on Spike's "lack of soul" and his involvement with Buffy to obsessively focused on the making the decision to go to Devon. After she made the Devon decision, she went back to studying the Spuffy situation. If she hadn't left town, that would have gone very differently.

When it was Joyce Buffy was mourning, Willow decided to be the one to go outside and talk to her, and it was a good talk. But Willow didn't have her head full of "WTF, Tara?" thoughts at the time. Now, her focus is elsewhere. It was Xander who came to sit beside Buffy when she was alone with a drink in her hand this time. Xander doesn't need to. He doesn't have the distance and relationship gaps Willow has. Xander chose to, out of pure friendship and solidarity with a fellow mourner. We'll see more of that.

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American Aurora Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 02:26pm

Hey myrabeth –

Fun story. Very clever. 

Not sure why so many are surprised that Spike died. Didn't they read Chapter Ten? 

You say you're a playwright - where are you based?  Anything produced yet?

You are an immensely talented writer.  Hope to see more of your work in the future.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 12:14pm

Oh, I'm no playwright. I just have a background in the theater. I spent some time working as a stage manager (with a little assistant director work) back in college that greatly influenced my writing style. I got very comfortable with dialogue AS the story, not simply a part of it.

Set + dialogue + stage direction is really all you need, if you work it right. In the theater, you frequently have to learn everything from a character's words: What they think, how they move, what they wear, how they feel.  You have to see the entire story in the dialogue and the actors cast to bring it to life, nearly every detail, from what color gels to put on the lights to the tiniest bits of stage business.

Clearly, I became fascinated -over the course of the years I spent with heavily notated scripts in my hand- with the idea of how much story could be told in dialogue. Behold te result.

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you're enjoying the story.

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madspuffyfan Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 01:18pm Liked

Loved it. I'm guessing Spike comes back alive due to he's a vampire with a soul?

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 02:27pm

I'm glad you're still reading.

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momnesia Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:47am Liked

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE BRING SPIKE BACK!!!!    Anyway would be good. . . .I'd even accept Dark Willow doing it!   I knew after the previous chapter that I should have stocked up on tissues!    Excellent story with lots of twists and turns; I hope that Doc is REALLY DEAD for good this time!   Thanks for the updates, and for sharing your story telling talent with the rest of us.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 08:09pm

Ooh! Begging? Tissue shopping? I must really be pulling heart-strings!

*bows* I thank you for the lovely compliment!

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gill Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:40am

P.S.

The flashback at the beginning with the letter made me tear up.

How is it you write so well that even Cordelia (whom I love) is captured perfectly in character in a one-liner?

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 02:47pm

That's Cordy's only line in the entirety of Echoes. I would have liked to have spent a little more time with the AI gang, but it wasn't needed, and didn't really fit. I'm hoping we get to see a little more of them in the sequel, but it's too soon to tell.

I love that flashback, for a number of reasons. For starters, it's some serious knife-twisting. Being the evil writer that I am, I think that's awesome. It's also a letter we knew existed for 40 chapters, though we didn't get any solid clues about its content until Hunkered Down. And the framing slides it right in as a scene that ends only a minute or so before the letter scene in chapter one, which opens with Buffy losing her patience with Spike's pacing. It came out perfectly.

But I mostly love it for the glimpse into the Buffy of that time. She loves him. She knows it. But even in a letter to herself, she hedges around saying it. Her focus is on the mission, and what Spike brings to the table to complete it, but the love and respect for him on a personal level shines through. She wants to spare herself repeating some brutal mistakes. Telling herself to trust him is the best method of saving them from each other, and making sure Spike stays on the mission. It's a tangled mix of work talk and personal revelation, a prefect reflection of season seven Spuffy.

The letter flashback also sets up something else. You'll soon see.

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magnus374 Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:31am

Now Buffy has to deal with the loss of Spike. Her anger and sorrow is seen so well. Whistled had manipulated them somewhat, but this wasn't his fault. Blaming him is a natural thing to do though.

The Scoobies are told now, Buffy gave them the information they needed and gave them some plans for the future. It will be interesting to see how the story will continue. There are so many possible scenarios.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 08:14pm

There actually aren't that many possibilities, if you consider what Buffy has already been told.

Yes, I'm an evil woman for dropping vague hints.

magnus374 Replied on July 19, 2015 06:56am

So somewhere in the 41 chapters there is a comment who would tell me the way Spike returns. I just have to wait and see if one of my idea will work.

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gill Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:24am Liked

Since you've been so tickled by the readers sharing of when they indulge in these chapters - I'll let you know that on weekends I read after breakfast and dishes are done, on my porch with a coffee, very relaxing/rewarding "me" time.

This morning, I had to read this immediately upon waking, curled up in my bed with pillows and blankets.

Although I'm still in too much shock to absorb much, I think the yelling with Whistler felt very real, I liked the line about how Tara chose Willow over heaven - maybe it will be enough to help them repair their rift? And somehow the last line managed to make me smile even though my heart is still broken. 

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 01:03pm

I first started writing Echoes a couple of years ago. I got to the point in the story that is now Fair Trades and my attention to it began to wane. Eventually, I put it down and walked away. Late last summer, the muse started talking to me again, and I started fiddling with some old WIPs. By Otcober, I had found my way back to Echoes, started reworking it and adding to it. It snowballed into this monster of a story.

I'm telling you this because those early days, when I was first starting to write again, most of the work was done in the morning hours, on the porch, with lots of coffee. And although winter caught up with me and drove me indoors to complete the story, in my mind, the creation of Echoes is centered on an image of myself, my laptop, and my coffee in the late morning sun, typing, pausing to stare at the nearby trees, and letting my imagination run wild.

So yeah, I get the morning porch time with coffee. I really do. And there is no more appropriate setting for reading Echoes than that.

But then, I totally get wanting to feel safe and protected when you read Opened Locks. It's a difficult chapter, as much emotionally as in its history. It's undergone more numerous and severe rewrites than any other chapter. At one point, there were FIVE saved versions of it at the same time. I thought it dragged, particularly through the letter section. I kept trying to write shorter, tighter versions. And they tanked. The version we ended up with is just as long as the original, and is not drastically different in content and structure. I removed a few bits from the lock box stuff that confused the emotional weight and pacing, but ended up adding the Xander and Buffy scene on the stairs, so the whole was still just as long. Part of the problem was that I tried to distance myself from the material, to look at it coolly, as nothing more than content that needed trimming. That was a mistake, one that I paid for in many, many hours of fruitless rewrites.

Opened Locks (which also cycled through at least 3 chapter titles, besides) isn't content you can distance yourself from and still remain true to. It's hard, and harsh, and raw. It's pain and silence and the obligation to the truth. It's a widow who isn't crying screaming out her frustrations, pouring herself a few drinks, and then admitting to the survivors who love her that she's a stranger. There's nothing easy about it. There's nothing cool and distant about it. If I weren't such a fool, I'd have seen that early enough to save myself all those hours of rewriting, and done for this chapter's Buffy what I'd tried to do for the entirety of the story: let the characters lead, let them set the pace and emotional weight, and not try to force them into the writer's ideals of what any scene should be. Opened Locks was a harsh lesson to the Scoobies- the casualties of war, the depths of sacrifice, the burdens of truth. But it was also a harsh lesson to me. When I stop trusting the characters, stop valuing who they are and what they're going through for what it is, I'm wasting my time. In this case, I wasted A LOT of time, and very nearly ruined what turned out to be a great chapter.

gill Replied on July 19, 2015 11:58am

Well I'm very glad you were able to find your way back to it, because this chapter definitely packs the emotional punch it should. :)

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Nina Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:24am Liked

Normally I would be frustrated with the lack of Spuffy payoff. I feel like they have consistantly been on the verge of something huge - especially Buffy. She knows she loves him, but I'm not sure she understood the depth of her feelings towards Spike. Spike wears his heart on his sleeve, whereas Buffy is more guarded and tempered by the mission. Now that he's gone, and when the booze and shock wear off, I'm hoping she has that moment of clarity. 

So the thing is, usually I'd be frustrated, but you have stayed so true to both canon Buffy and this Buffy that I find myself wanting it to last a little longer. The Scoobies had a bomb dropped on them, and now it's time for them to catch up, adjust, and appreciate the magnitude of Buffy, Spike, and Tara's efforts. And the sacrifice. 

It's deliciously angsty, and while a part of me is anxious for the romantic moment, I find I can kind of wait for the epic. Not long, mind you ;), but I can wait. 

Loved this chapter!

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 08:21pm

I think there were a few people expecting this chapter to open with a "you so got faked out, he's not really gone/he'll be right back" moment. I've done the fake cliffhanger before. (Giles finding out about the marriage at the end of Unfought Demons. Everyone expected a big blow up to open the next chapter, and Giles wasn't even in that scene.)

But this is real. And it's not going to be fixed with a wave of the author's magic cursor. Like everything else we've seen in Echoes, it's going to take time and work to get anywhere. I'm thrilled to read reviews like yours, where there's some appreciation shown for that need.

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crazyjane Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 11:08am Liked

You made me cry, heart rending stuff.....make it better, Pretty please..

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 01:12pm

Um, by better, I'm assuming you mean less angsty? I think I can manage that. We can't stay mired in this emotional hole forever.

Oh. By better, you mean the whole vampire-back-from-the-ashes thing, don't you? We'll see.

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ginar369 Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 10:57am Liked

Whistler really shouldn't have been surprised. She told Giles she'd quit if Dawn had to die the first time around. What would make Whistler think she would take losing her husband any better? Besides Whistler said it himself. No claim and Buffy is just a slayer with a slayer lifespan. So his mission is over too.

Tara is standing in for a lot of people lately. I've never seen her so angry?! She hit someone!! I really thought Buffy was going to chop Whistler up into little pieces.

They finally all know the truth. Buffy and Spike and even Tara make sense to them now. She didn't go into every detail but they got enough to know just how bad it was and how close Buffy and Spike were.Plus Willow understands now why they kept her at arms length. She was and is dangerous. Although I think that stone they caught before just got dropped. Telling them about Nikki and Robin planted the idea of kids again for Willow. Not that it will do a lot of good without Spike around. But then again Willow's ethic's are flexible so who knows?

Buffy wasn't going to be the 'Slayer' anymore after this anyway. If it had all gone according to plan Buffy and Spike would have claimed each other and they would be agents of the powers. So Faith would need to be there anyway to be the slayer. So Buffy quitting doesn't change that at all. But she has shut down. Completely and I don't know what it will take to bring her back other than Spike coming back. Dawn just might see 2002 Buffy after all. Losing Spike / losing heaven... they are going to look kind of the same. But do they tell everyone that he is gone? Social Services? Because if they declare him dead and he comes back???

Angel took that well. Better than I thought. I thought there might be some gloating or a thought in his head to make a move on Buffy. But instead he was practical. Yeah I'm think Dru is gonna be pissed. She told Buffy to claim Spike. Hell she made the trip to Sunnyhell just for that! And she was right about Buffy not jumping.

The inscription Spike found told him what was going to happen. (It took me a while to really understand the message. Actually to accept what it said. I really didn't want either of them to die!) The changes they've made. The people they've changed will hold up even with him gone. The Scooby's are whole. Buffy, even if she declares Spike dead, will have his money and the stability to keep Dawn. Faith will be there and Buffy will get to live. Even thought its the hardest thing in the world to do.

CryLovePopcorn

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 04:38pm

Whistler's been assigned to Buffy since just before she was called (Porcelain Translations). The PTB has been looking at the long game with her since before she even met Merrick. Mortal slayer or not, as long as she's still breathing, it's a safe bet they aren't done with her. So she still has a case agent, whether she wants him or not.

But we also know (from Becoming and reiterated in Connective Issues and Porcelain Translations) that the PTB don't always tell Whistler everything upfront. He's a middle man, being used by his bosses and abused by his cases. He likes to act like he's in a power position, and does some situational meddling/manipulation himself (which is why no one likes him), but he's not the top of the food chain, and he can't see everything that's going on up there from his place in the middle. So Whistler may or may not know why he's still assigned to Buffy, may or may not know what happens next. His bosses pulled a fast one on him with the Angel and Acathla thing, making him think he was conning Angel into going to Buffy and to Sunnydale for one reason when it was actually for another. They could leave him in the dark again, to all kinds of varying degrees.

Not that Buffy cares, of course. Whistler's still a liar and a manipulator, in her experience, whether he's the ultimate manipulator or not.

Without a body to bury, having Spike declared dead would take some hoop-jumping, so it's unlikely anyone will try to make anything official, at least right away. Honestly, until the shock wears off, it's unlikely anyone will even think of that stuff. In the meantime, we've established that Buffy has access to the money (at least the primary checking account - Past Revelations) and hinted that she has access to more (Surprise Preview and Solid Bonds). At least she's financially ok, if nothing else.

Yes, the beginnings of the baby idea landed in Willow's head, but Buffy isn't even considering that as a concern. Anne and Henry are just painful memories now, like everything else.

Remember that the agent idea was a THEORY, not a promise. Althenea gave them the idea it was possible, and Whistler later implied she might be right. Buffy put forth the idea of Faith taking over for her even if everything went well so she COULD walk away to become a PTB agent, if that's how it went. She was contingency planning in both directions with that visit to the prison: her possible death AND her possible upgrade in status.

Neither scenario came to pass, but that talk with Faith still ended up laying groundwork she needs: Buffy's ready to walk away from the slayer business, and there's a proper Chosen One prepped and ready to replace her.

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pfeifferpack Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 07:29am Liked

I'm rather glad that he is still dust for a while at least...time enough for everyone to absorb all the new information and even to solidify their reactions to Spike as well as his relationship with Buffy.  They will understand far better this way.  I think it will also be good for Buffy in a way too...to truly have perspective.  She already better understands what Spike went throught that first time.

Naturally I am expecting him to be returned in some way.  I know you say you gave clues but I am dense of late and obviously missed them.  I do, however, have faith in the wonderful writer.

I love both Tara and Buffy threatening Whistler, he asks for it...badly.  I am also glad Giles seemed to understand at least a bit.  I'm also glad they told him and TPTB to stuff it.  I'd quit too.

I'm thinking about the side story on Dawns marvelous adventure and will have to think a little bit longer (and consult with my muse) but I think you'd do a great job with it too...it could work.

Sad informative and oddly satisfying chapter.  Can't wait for the next.

Kathleen

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 04:09pm

You know, I got the feeling from some of the reviews of Battle Ready that a lot of people were hoping it was a big "make you suffer for two days for nothing" cliffhanger, and would be quickly fixed. I'm glad you appreciate that it isn't going that way. They need time, they need space, and they all need to start to understand the situations they're in.

The clues will be mentioned as they're figured out, so it's ok if you don't find them yourself. I won't leave you hanging.

Buffy's verbal and physical attack on Whistler was my "lump in the throat" moment for this chapter. It still rips me up, months after the scene was created. But Tara's strong, harsh reaction makes me pump my fist in the air and cheer. Willow might be shocked and slightly horrified about it, but I've never been more proud of Tara than when she was up in Whistler's face, basically telling him to shove it.

Dawn's adventure: "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." And it would definitely be a comedy-centric piece. I'm not sure I could do it justice. The only solid thing in my mind for it is the mental image of Dawn with her hands on her hips, her nose wrinkled up and mouth partially open in an expression that is some combination of confusion, disgust, and annoyance, staring at the hero-worshipping crazy girl. *cackles* About a thousand things could come out of her mouth in that moment, and all of them would be golden. You could have a blast with that tale.

pfeifferpack Replied on July 18, 2015 11:01pm

I was thinking about where they started just before the battle with the FE.  Buffy had been SHOWING Spike she cared with her solicitude and so on frmo the time she got him back from the FE.  She also was dating Robin Wood, kissing Angel and not saying the words to Spike.  They had their night and then the "dear John but not" note so he never got a real chance to be certain of her feelings.  Now this bond that has been rushed has made them aware but they really haven't have a moment to just explore how they DO feel.  It's all been things undertaken to advance the plan including the marriage.

Now Buffy will be having time to truly think about her feelings for Spike, think about what she might have said or done differently had they not been in "war mode".  

I think this time (knowing he WILL be back eventually) can only strengthen their love.

 

I might get my muse working on that because it does beg to be done.

Kathleen

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cai Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 05:22am

Oh my God, you really did kill Spike. *Hopes he somehow comes back* 

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 03:47pm

Yep. I did. I'm a horrible, horrible person.

But the story isn't over yet.

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Megan Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 05:20am

I read this while sitting in the hairdressers and cried.  I am heartbroken for Buffy.

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 03:46pm

Hug She's tougher than she looks. She'll survive.

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Blue Eyes2 Reviewed Opened Locks on July 18, 2015 04:14am Liked

First thank you for posting early. I still can't get over what happened but at least the other now know. 

 

I am really worried about her. She's done with such finality distancing herself further. I can't help but think she plans to off herself somehow. Pushing everyone to move on without her the pain. I'm worried.

 

The fact that Whistler survived is just luck. How could he give her hope of an HEA just to pull it away like that. To have them see something that will never be.  It's evil - so where is the part where he's supposed to be working for the Power of Good. 

 

My heart still hurts. Cry

Author's Response on July 18, 2015 03:40pm

Buffy's screaming at Whistler was heartwrenching, wasn't it? But she and Tara both punching him was a nice bit of catharsis. I do feel sorry for Tara's injured hand, but I'm in agreement with her: totally worth it.

Yeah, Buffy and Tara have called it quits... which means Dawn by extension, and Giles sort of. The Time Scoobies are out of the game. It's not about giving up on life, it's about giving up on the job. Buffy can walk away now. She never could before. 

She's finally solidifying the dividing line that's been building for months: the Time Scoobies are a separate team from the Scoobies as we've previously known them. Up until this point, there's been some overlap, with Willow out of town, there's only been one witch. With Faith in prison, there's only been one slayer. With Spike at Buffy's side, and the only active watcher being placed in a role that was more of a Scooby than a leader, all the muscle and strategy has been contained in basically a single unit (Spuffy). The mission (Glory) has been a shared one to the two causes: save the world in the here and now, and save the future.

But -once they break Faith out of prison- none of that is the case anymore. They'll have a slayer, one who is free to build whatever power dynamic she wishes with a friendly new watcher. Willow is back. The standard "save the world and patrol regularly" slayer mission won't have any direct ties to the time travelers anymore. Slayer + full team of Slayer Scoobies = the Time Scoobies can walk away, guilt free.

And, after losing Spike to complete the mission, walking away is very, very appealing.

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